Brewing up an event steeped in culture

By Cheng Yuezhu | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-08-25 07:54
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Innkeeper and tea sommelier Zhang Hongyan (right) prepares tea with her team at a tea plantation in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Tea ceremony in Jingshan village, Zhejiang province's Hangzhou city, celebrates the drink and its fascinating history, Cheng Yuezhu reports.

Nestled in the foothills of Jingshan village, Zhejiang province's Hangzhou city, quietly lies an inn named Wufeng Shanfang. With a decor that exudes Chinese antique elegance, the inn sets the scene for an immersive experience, inviting visitors to don traditional attire and relish a cup of tea.

Occasionally tea-tasting ceremonies are hosted inside the inn, where tea sommeliers reenact how the ancient Chinese prepared and tasted the drink, highlighting elegant minutiae, taking the visitors on a journey into Jingshan village's age-old tea culture.

Or, more casually, visitors can simply sit down with the innkeeper Zhang Hongyan, sipping tea while listening to Zhang introducing the story of tea and telling her own life stories.

"I used to have a regular nine-to-five job, but eventually quit because of health issues. At the time, my parents were considering entering the hotel business, so I came back to help them. I was very introverted and everybody thought I wouldn't manage," she recalls.

As Jingshan village is known for Jingshan tea, a type of green brew with a time-honored history, the leaves of which grow in the mountains, like many locals of the village, Zhang's parents worked in the sector and established their own tea-processing factory.

With an inherent passion for tea, in 2016, 29-year-old Zhang started learning about it while working on opening the inn. She undertook training and became a certified tea sommelier and assessor.

"When I was younger, I often felt stressed or agitated. And having studied tea, I feel that my personality has gradually changed. For example, introducing the tea culture to the guests injects me with happiness," Zhang says.

"Now I think I've discovered the virtue of broad-mindedness and learned to influence other people with love, and treat all people genuinely and candidly."

She is among the sommeliers who perform tea whisking, a preparation technique that prevailed in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), at the folk edition of the time-honored Jingshan Tea Ceremony.

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